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England will resume their preparations ahead of the Qatar World Cup when they face Italy at the San Siro tonight.
But ahead of what is their penultimate match before facing Iran in the World Cup group stages, England’s more immediate concern is avoiding relegation from the Uefa Nations League.
After damaging defeats to Hungary in June, as well as draws against Italy and Germany, England come into the international break bottom of Group 3 on just two points.
They are three points behind Italy with two matches remaining, which means Gareth Southgate’s side will be relegated to League B if they lose at the San Siro.
The Azzurri faithful will not be booking any holidays to North Macedonia anytime soon, as the reigning champions will be forced to watch the 2022 World Cup from home after succumbing to a 1-0 playoff defeat to the world’s 64th-ranked nation.
From storming to continental glory at Wembley in 2021 to failing to qualify for the biggest tournament of them all for the second consecutive time, Italy won 15 games in a row up until last summer – they have now posted just four wins from their last 14 in all tournaments.
Taking five points from their opening three Nations League clashes was a far from disastrous way to start proceedings, but Mancini’s side were torn to shreds in a 5-2 defeat to Germany during their most recent game, which leaves them languishing in third place in the standings.
Qualification for the finals is still within the Azzurri’s reach, with the European champions seeking to improve on their third-placed Nations League finish in 2020-21, but the previously steadfast Italian defence have now gone six games without
Only once have the hosts failed to score in a Nations League game on Italian turf, though, and the consolation of Nations League qualification may help Mancini and co get through their November friendlies with fellow Qatar absentees Albania and Austria that little bit easier.
Italy have already lost a trio of experienced players to injury for September’s games, as Lorenzo Pellegrini and Matteo Politano have been forced to withdraw alongside Marco Verratti. Davide Frattesi and Manolo Gabbiadini have been called up as replacements.
Mancini controversially decided against calling up Davide Calabria and Nicolo Zaniolo for September’s fixtures, while Leeds United’s Wilfried Gnonto and West Ham United’s Gianluca Scamacca have both made the cut.
A distinct lack of options out wide should benefit Gnonto’s chances of starting, especially after the 18-year-old scored against Germany last time out, but Scamacca will likely take a back seat as Ciro Immobile seeks his first international goal in 15 months.
As for England, Southgate’s ever-criticised squad selection saw a maiden call-up for Brentford striker Ivan Toney, but he is not in the squad for this game, so 50-goal captain Harry Kane ought to lead the line from the off as he closes in on Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 strikes for the Three Lions.
What time does Italy vs England kick off?
Battle will commence between the bitter European rivals on Friday, September 23. With the match starting at 7.45pm UK time.
Italy play hosts to England at the San Siro Stadium which is set to be demolished by 2028 to make way for a new, improved ground for its occupants AC and Inter Milan. The San Siro can seat up to 80,018 supporters with around 4,500 away fans making the trip to support England.
The last time the two sides clashed was at Wolves’ Molineux Stadium in June in a game that ended in a stalemate. England’s faithful were so enraged with the Three Lions’ lacklustre performance, a chorus of boos rang round the stadium after the game.
Italy possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Bonucci, Emerson; Barella, Tonali, Jorginho; Gnonto, Immobile, Grifo
England possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; James, Tomori, Maguire; Trippier, Rice, Bellingham, Shaw; Sterling, Kane, Foden
Where can I watch Italy vs England?
Supporters who won’t be travelling to watch the game can catch all the action on Channel 4. The build up for the game will get underway from 7pm.
Fans on the move can stream the game live on the Channel 4 website or All 4 app. And the match will be shown for free, however, these options are only available for those who hold a valid TV license.
TV channel: In the UK, tonight’s game will be broadcast live free-to-air on Channel 4, with coverage beginning at 7pm BST ahead of a 7:45pm kick-off.
Live stream: All 4 (free with a subscription) will also provide a live stream online.
LIVE coverage: Follow all the action tonight with Standard Sport’s dedicated live match blog, with expert analysis from chief football correspondent Dan Kilpatrick in Milan.